Written by Kara VanderBijl
This summer, the CTA requested proposals for art projects that it intends to display at newly-renovated Red Line stations on its southern Dan Ryan Branch. Ever since then, I’ve been taking a closer look at the art in and around the trains.
Like many commuters, I’ve caught sight of a mosaic or two on my way up the escalators or pushing through the turnstiles. But this fall, I want to be more purposeful in my hunt. The CTA’s website provides a helpful booklet [PDF] locating and describing each piece of public art. Some of them I’ve leaned up against or walked on without noticing. Others, like the fuschia and red aluminum waves of Krivanek and Breaux’s “Reflections Expressions Transformations” at the Chicago Brown Line station, evoke the same emotions every time I see them. Many of them decorate parts of the city I don’t often get a chance to visit.
CTA art is art in flux; usually, people will only see it for a few moments. As they move to and from the trains and stations, they may not even register that what they’re looking at is intentional. Having the names and locations of each installation in the back of my mind has encouraged me to look up — or down — as I travel and appreciate fellow Chicagoans who at one point passed through a station and thought of it not only as a destination or transfer point but as a venue, gallery or stage for their creativity.
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